In very simple terms, being mindful means paying attention to the present moment and to what is going on in our life in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. We do this by looking within first, and naturally we also apply this to our external world and interactions.
Mindfulness, with its special qualities of awareness, presence, and non-judgement, is a precious resource everyone already possesses. It is available constantly and in limitless amounts; it is often waiting to be accessed and used more fully. This wonderful gift and skill can be revealed in each person; it can be fine-tuned, strengthened, and shaped to become one of our most useful habits and ways of being.
The short exercise described below, from Palouse Mindfulness, can often can greatly enhance a deeper connection with ourselves and how we feel when practised regularly. This is a good exercise to do as it encourages being more aware of where you’re at and how you are truly feeling.
STOP Exercise or 1 Minute Breathing Space
• S – Stop and take Stock: Checking in with the Head/Heart/Body
Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately asking:
What is my experience right now?
Thoughts… (what are you saying to yourself, what images are coming to mind.)
Feelings… (enjoying, neutral, upset, excited, sad, mad, etc.)
Sensations… (physical sensations, tightness, holding, lightness, etc.)
Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is uncomfortable.
• T – Take a Breath: Directing awareness to Breathing
Gently direct full attention to breathing, to each in-breath and to each out-breath as they follow, one after the other.
Your breath can function as an anchor to bring you into the present and help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness.
• O – Open and Expand awareness
Expand the field of your awareness around and beyond your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression, then further outward to what is happening around you: sights, sounds, smells, etc. As best you can, bring this expanded awareness to the next moments…
• P – Proceed and See New Possibilities without expectation
Let your attention now move into the world around you, sensing how things are right now.
Rather than react habitually/mechanically, you can be curious/open, responding naturally.
This exercise is also especially useful when you are experiences very intense emotions or repetitive thoughts. If you’d like to know more about mindfulness or to experience exercises similar to the STOP exercise, visit the Mindfulness at Play website or their Facebook page.
Mindfulness at Play is a Consulting Agency offering restorative and empowering Mindfulness & Well-Being Sessions at the workplace to organizations in the Philippines.